Mumbai violence takes toll, top cop shunted out
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The mishandling of the August 11 Azad Maidan violence in Mumbai claimed what appeared to be its first victim on Thursday, amid indications of more shake-ups to come.
The city's police chief was transferred out with a "promotion" following a clamour for his removal from both the opposition and within the government. Commissioner Arup Patnaik was replaced with Satyapal Singh, additional DG (law and order). And one of the new police chief's first moves was to effectively clip the wings of assistant CP Vasant Dhoble, widely criticised for his style of moral policing.
Alongside Patnaik's transfer came indications that the next to lose his job could be Home Minister R R Patil, who has disappointed the NCP leadership with the way his department has handled law and order. The opposition has been calling for his ouster, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had earlier publicly criticised him, and party sources hinted at a reshuffle soon.
It was Patil who announced Patnaik's "promotion" as managing director of the Maharashtra State Security Corporation. The file for the transfer had been moved over the last week; the chief minister approved it on Thursday.
The new CP began by withdrawing the special dispensation Patnaik had allowed Dhoble's Social Service Branch, known for raids on bars. The SSB used to report directly to CP Patnaik but it will now return to its old profile as a Crime Branch unit. Patnaik had taken it out of that fold and it reported to him through the deputy CP (enforcement).
To a question, Singh said he did not want any special squads either. Patnaik is said to have - he denied it - informally assigned special squads that effectively diluted the role of the Crime Branch.
Singh said he would take up the challenge of restoring police morale of his force and public confidence in the police. "I will take up the challenge of restoring whatever morale had gone low to ensure that as a force, we can be effective in tackling challenges that come our way," he said.
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